Sunday, November 05, 2017

Another Political Shake Up In Saudi Arabia


Making sense of the Machiavellian moves within the House of Saud is well above my pay grade, and for now details remain scant, but King Salman appears to be consolidating his power as dozens of princes and former (and current) ministers have either arrested, detained, or are under investigation for `corruption'.
Before the emergence of a novel coronavirus on the Arabian peninsula in 2012, all of this would have had little direct impact on global health, but the virus continues to simmer in KSA (see Study: A Pandemic Risk Assessment Of MERS-CoV In Saudi Arabia), and apparently some of the corruption allegations involve the handling of MERS-CoV.
Reportedly caught up in all of this is Dr. Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, who replaced long-standing Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah in April of 2013, only to be replaced by Dr. Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Hayazie 8 monghs later. Faqih was subsequently named Minister of Economy and Planning.
Since then the position of Health Minister has been a revolving door (7 in 4 years), with the current MOH Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan bin Muhammad Al-Rabiah appointed in May of 2016.
While few names have been named, the size of this corruption probe appears to be growing, with a report today from Saudi broadcaster Al-Arabiya suggesting 4 current Ministers, and `10s' of former Ministers are under investigation.

Princes and former ministers detained in Saudi Arabia corruption probe

Eleven princes, four sitting ministers and ‘tens’ of former ministers have been arrested on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday evening according to sources.

The committee announced that it is reopening the file of the 2009 Jeddah floods and investigating the Corona virus issue also known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.

According to a Royal Decree issued by King Salman on Saturday, the anti-corruption committee is chaired by the Crown Prince with the membership of: Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, Chief of the General Audit Bureau, Attorney General and Head of State Security.

The committee has the right to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets of individuals involved in corruption practices.

Meanwhile the MOH today is reporting 2 new primary (no known exposure) MERS cases in the capital Riyadh, making 3 primary cases reported there in the past 4 days.

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